When I was a young boy, maybe 4 or 5, I had a pair of cowboy boots with a flashy, distinctive stitched blue leaf pattern and stitched toes. I wore them everywhere, I never wanted to take them off, never. I wore them to play in, to church, to school, and whenever I could get away with it, to bed. When you are 4, 5, 6, years old your feet grow, and grow and grow… and my boots got snugger and snugger and snugger, but those boots were not coming off. They were my superpower! When I wore them, I felt the energy. My boots were a symbol, they were a force, they gave me hope, they gave me strength, they gave me knowledge, they gave me wisdom. Even though they were “to fit”, and my mother said that they were going to stunt my growth, and that she would get me other boots, they were irreplaceable, and parting with them was not an option. I couldn’t part with them. With these boots, I was “Jimmy the Kid,” and together we were unstoppable.
I finally had to give up my boots, I tried to replace the power, the sway, the strength, with Nehru jackets, and tie-dye, and even began painting my jackets with my favorite album covers. People loved them which gave me strength, but not the same as those boots. Then in my early twenties, I moved into NYC and began shopping in cool stores and punk boutiques, spending nights at clubs well into the morning hours. I bought myself a pair of black combat boots, felt strength and confidence, and headed to the mosh pits and slam danced all night, sweated, banged heads, jumped on stage, and was feeling the power. Next, I found this pair of side zippered, snotty-nosed, pointy cockroach killers, they were a little on the tight side, but they reeked of cool. Then I bought a pair of snakeskin shoes. Puffed up with confidence, I would walk into Studio 54, where people stopped and noticed my presence. My power was back.
As I got older, the side zippers were replaced with work boots and the snakeskin shoes with dress shoes. My new running shoes did not fit right, but not in a good way, not in a powerful way, and the work boots needed orthopedic inserts. Well okay, I am getting older, I guess I am becoming complacent, and this is the way it is going to be.
Walking through town the other day, I was quiet, shuffling, a bit depressed, old shirt half tucked in, and in need of a haircut. Then across the street, there it was, a young brash kid exuding the power of presence… and I knew for my soul I needed a new pair of cowboy boots, maybe a little too small.
-Jim Holahan, Ithaca, NY